Meet veteran VBT Travelers, George and Irene J. Through their 19 years of exploring with us they’ve managed to take 24 VBT Vacations in all! They’ve visited us here in Vermont a couple of times, they’ve made it all the way down under to New Zealand, they’ve taken every Italian Vacation that we offer and it’s anyone’s guess as to how many passports the couple has gone through. It all got started, however, back in 1993 when George and Irene took their first biking trip with us to Bordeaux.
“That was back before we had the internet. I think we saw an ad for VBT in a biking magazine. Irene and I figured that if we had a week’s vacation from work… there’s no better way to see the world than from a bike.”
For their week away, George and Irene decided to spend time exploring the French Countryside, riding along the Dordogne. First off, they loved the biking. Pedaling along the river flats was peaceful and they really got a thrill by challenging themselves and conquering a few rolling hills, all the while knowing that the VBT van was just behind them in case they needed to rest their legs.
The pair also enjoyed connecting with the culture in Bordeaux. Riding through vineyard lanes, the couple witnessed, first-hand, the devotion that the residents have to winemaking. It was autumn and George and Irene were able to chat with the local vintners, taste a variety of grapes and they even used their bike seats as boosters to pluck a few figs from a tree that hung high over their heads. They were wearing their helmets, but you still might not want to try that one at home.
When George looks back on his Bordeaux Vacation the small river villages stand out in his mind. He really got a sense that the river was the lifeblood of the region—it delivers water to the vineyards, the residents have the river for fun and for recreation and it also provides a glimpse into the past, when rivers were essential to commerce and a town’s livelihood.
Another highlight, particularly for George, was exploring each town’s bakery, sampling the macaroons to see which town had the best. All in the name of scientific research, of course.
Though George and Irene took this vacation almost twenty years ago, the memories that were made seem as vivid as ever and the experiences that they had were enough to keep them traveling with VBT 23 more times, including a 40-year anniversary vacation to the Dolomites.
George and Irene joined VBT in Italy’s Dolomites to celebrate and commemorate their 40th Wedding Anniversary. At the time, it was the best vacation they had ever taken! Though George would clarify, “Every one we’ve been on has been the best.”
Visiting the region had been a dream of both George and Irene’s since seeing the Winter Olympics of 1956, which were hosted in Cortina. After enjoying VBT’s Pre-Trip Extension in Venice, George and Irene were able to realize that dream when they joined the rest of the VBT group at their Cortina Hotel. They fondly recall peering down at the main pedestrian street in town and watching the beginning of a marathon. The very next day, the group got to join in a bit of the fun as they cycled a good portion of the marathon route.
Largely due to the excitement of the race, there was a particularly celebratory atmosphere in town. However, that exuberance remained even after the runners had crossed the finish line and moved along. The locals were warm, inviting and happy to share their unique corner of Italy with travelers.
The greatest surprise that the couple encountered in the Dolomites was the scenery. On day 5 of their adventure, George and Irene took advantage of an optional ride up to Cimabanche Pass. After climbing through wooded areas along a former railway line, the landscape completely opened up as the path leveled out. “It was as pretty as any other place we’ve seen in Italy, but the contrasts were really special. We didn’t know we’d be riding through such great forests along the Austrian border.”
After twenty four vacations in nearly twenty years, George and Irene are still looking forward to their next VBT Vacation. This time around, they’re considering heading back to France, and riding through southern France on our Provence: The Alpilles biking vacation.
When it comes to Traveling with VBT, it isn’t just one aspect of the vacation that appeals to George and Irene—it’s everything. From the optional routes to accommodate all riders to the opportunities for cultural connection and even for self-discovery, George and Irene are hooked on VBT’s Vacations. Engaging with new environments with all of their senses, George and Irene ultimately feel that Biking Vacations suit them because they’re the best way to “Travel at just the right speed.”